United States Entry into World War I: A Documentary Chronology

American foreign policy continues to resonate with the issues involved in the entry of the United States into World War I-unilateralism versus foreign alliances, the responsibilities of power, the influence of the military-industrial complex on foreign policy, the use of force to accomplish idealistic goals. Understanding the choices the Wilson administration made and their consequences provides insight into international affairs in the years since the end of the Great War and beyond.

In this curriculum unit, students reconsider the events leading to U.S. entry into World War I through the lens of archival documents.

Note: This unit may be taught either as a stand-alone lesson or as a prequel to the complementary EDSITEment curriculum unit The Debate in the United States Over the League of Nations. It may also be taught in conjunction with the EDSITEment curriculum units African Americans Soldiers in World War I: The 92nd and 93rd Divisions and African American Soldiers After World War I: Had Race Relations Changed?.

Guiding Questions

What important events led to U.S. involvement in World War I?


What is the most compelling evidence explaining why the U.S. entered World War I?

Learning Objectives

List important events leading to U.S. involvement in World War I.


Take a stand on a hypothesis for U.S. entry into World War I, supported by specific evidence.